As the audience entered the Dixon Place theater, disco lights and music enveloped the space. Shots of vodka and hard candy were passed around as patrons settled in. Cast members took turns on the stage, grooving to the funky driving beats before the show’s start. Foot-tapping began and lasted throughout the evening, along with audience members chatting about John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever (1977), Chic’s Le Freak (1978), or Donna Summer singing Bad Girls (1979).
It was 1979 when disco ruled, and young people came to New York City to escape the criticism and constraints of life in conservative suburbs. The Bohemian eclectic West Village was the epi-center for these new New Yorkers with its affordable housing, graffiti, counter-culture, drugs, hitchhiking hookers on 9th avenue, piles of trash, arson, abandoned buildings, and crime. Moving to NYC was about Freedom (1969), as Richie Havens sang about a decade earlier.
At their peril, young people were free to pursue a chosen lifestyle in New York. Do what you want or love the one you’re with, with few rules in a city nearly bankrupt and hemorrhaging population. Reform was not on the horizon with massive layoffs of city workers like police and firefighters. City leaders were not yet capable or interested in transforming Times Square into a magic tourist kingdom from a place of hucksters, carnies, porno movie theaters, and grimy peep shows. New York City’s woes miraculously inspired a post-hippie cultural renaissance that included punk, hip-hop, salsa, and disco. Disco became the anthem of survivors, revolutionaries, and recreants and remains in the hazy memory of underground clubs and places like Xenon, Studio 54, Crisco Disco, Paradise Garage, GG’s Barnum Room, Le Clique, the Fun House, and Hurrah.
Tonight’s Disco Daydream was an immersive fun-fete celebrating the universal quest for elusive love and where it might be found. The cast touched hearts and drew inspiration from an empathetic audience that sighed at hints of romance, camaraderie, and reminiscences of disco’s glory days. The music never stopped in this story of love and tragedy as it unfolded through incredible dance routines, driving music, humor, charm, and physicality.
Some favorite quotes include “tragedy plus time equals comedy,” “politics is for hippies,” “nothing equals the self-importance of New Yorkers,” and “a city filled with fabulous freaks.”
Humor was crisp and well-timed as our guide, vivacious stage manager Glace Chase flitted around the stage, frequently accompanied by the muscular Jock (Valton Jackson) and Cade (Richard JMV). Old George (Chuck Blasius) opined that life is fleeting and meant to be cherished–carpe diem! Steven (Jack Bartholet) and Trade (Antony Cherrie) reminded us of the fragility of life and love, and Lisa’s (Ashley Chavonne) expressive dances and words gave us balance and context. Petey (Eileen Dover) showed a wicked wit and charm and attracted friends but lamented for something more. Lighting and sound, and music were managed impeccably. Disco Daydream was warm, naughty, hilarious, and sentimental.
The Village! A Disco Daydream at Dixon Place
Written by Nora Burns
Directed by Adam Pivirotto
Executive producers Stephen Henderson and James LaForce
Co-Producers Bill Megevick and World of Wonder
Producers Donald Capoccia, Simon Halls, Laurie Pike, Jacqueline Tannenbaum, John Bartlett, Pike-Hermes Family, and John Morse
Runtime 80 minutes.
Bartholet, Chuck Blasius, Glace Chase, Ashley Chavonne, Antonie Cherrie, Eileen Dover, Valton Jackson, Antwon LeMonte, and Richard Schieffer.
Choreography by Robin Carrigan
Directed by Adam Pivirotto
Costumes by Paul Alexander
Sets Designed by Steven Hammel
Stage Manager Helen Thornton
Props/Asst Stage Manager Torin Jay
Musical Curation Robin Carrigan
161A Chrystie Street
New York, NY 10002
For show details, go to https://dixonplace.org/performances/the-village-a-disco-daydream/
For the Calendar and tickets, go to https://ci.ovationtix.com/35526
Readers may also enjoy our reviews of Shedding Load, Sandblasted, and Park Avenue Chamber Symphony and Debussy